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BOP Dairy Awards Winners All Career Changes

March 19, 2014

BOP Dairy Awards Winners All Career Changes

Making the move to dairy farming has been hugely successful for the three major winners at the 2014 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards.

The 2014 Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brett and Natasha Grindrod, were both teachers, the Bay of Plenty Farm Managers of the Year, Thomas Blackett and Stacey Lepper, had engineering and technician careers, and Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year, Cameron Luxton, was a builder. They all switched careers to dairy farming and were announced winners at the region’s awards dinner at Awakeri Events Centre last night (March 19).

Brett Grindrod says he took the opportunity to work on a dairy farm for a season and never looked back. “After a short time on farm I found I really enjoyed the career change, and did not want to return teaching. I enjoyed the flexibility that farming offered and could see the long term potential for growth.

“It was a huge change going from dealing with 30 young children all day to dealing with 450 cows but it was a change I enjoyed.”

The regional winners have another factor in common – they have all entered the awards previously, using the awards as a tool to grow their farm business, increase their farming knowledge and expertise, and meet like-minded people.

“A big benefit that I experienced from entering was the judging feedback as they showed me in constructive ways areas I was doing well and areas that I needed to improve in my farming practice,” Cameron Luxton says.

Brett and Natasha Grindrod are 25% sharemilking 445 cows for Barry and Yvonne Richardson at Whakatane. The couple are both aged 33 and won $19,880 in prizes.

They have huge enthusiasm and passion for the industry, and attend field days and study through Primary ITO to increase their knowledge and skill level. “I also work extremely hard to make sure that I am doing the absolute best I can to optimise this farm’s performance,” Mr Grindrod says.

The couple, who were runners-up in last year’s contest, aim to continue to grow their equity through sharemilking to achieve their ultimate aim of farm ownership.

“Since starting in the farming industry, our eyes have been opened to the vast amount of opportunities that are available to those that are open to getting involved and show a passion for the industry.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, RD1 and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

The 2014 Bay of Plenty Farm Managers of the Year, Thomas Blackett and Stacey Lepper, are contract milking 409 cows for Malcolm Clark at Whakatane. They won $9000 in prizes.

Mr Blackett, aged 28 years, was a design engineer for Fisher & Paykel and Ms Lepper, aged 27 years, was a lab technician for AgResearch.

The couple says their strengths lie in people and pasture management. “We feel that our employees are the biggest asset of our business and so treat them as valued contributors. We also communicate clearly and effectively with the farm’s shareholders to ensure that we are all on the same page with how the farm is going and the future aims and goals of the farm.”

Their farming goals are to have an excellent reputation as dairy farmers and employers, to be interchangeable, and to grow their equity through sharemilking.

Mr Blackett placed third in the 2012 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year contest.

Te Puke contract milkers Luther and Jessica Siemelink placed second place in the farm manager contest, winning $4710 in prizes, and third was Tauranga contract milker Tony Baker, who won $3640 in prizes.

The 2014 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year, Cameron Luxton, is an assistant on Andrew and Dianne Muller’s 380-cow Galatea farm. The 24-year-old won $4200 in prizes.

Mr Luxton, who was a building apprentice for three years, has been in the dairy industry three years and has the goal to work hard and earn the right to own a farm.

“Through the support of my employers I have moved my career forward and am excited about going further. I want to be the best farmer that I can be for my family, community, environment and industry.”

Second in the trainee contest went to Whakatane assistant Jodie Mexted, who won $900. Third was Andrew Cameron who won $500 in prizes.

Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Brett and Natasha Grindrod, will host a field day on April 3, while Farm Managers of the Year, Thomas Blackett and Stacey Lepper, will host a field day on the Whakatane farm they manage on April 10. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
• BlackmanSpargo Legal Audit Award - Brett & Natasha Grindrod
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Brett & Natasha Grindrod
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Grant & Karley Thomson
• Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Jeff & Ryn Going
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Brett & Natasha Grindrod
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Brett & Natasha Grindrod
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Katherine & Sefton Hemingway
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Jeff & Ryn Going
• Triplejump Risk Management Award – Jeff & Ryn Going
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Brett & Natasha Grindrod

Farm Manager Merit Awards:
• The Wrangler Best Livestock Award - Jessica & Luther Siemelink
• Fonterra Best Practice Award – Tony Baker
• Primary ITO Human Resource Management Award – Thomas Blackett & Stacey Lepper
• RD1 Farm Management Award – Tony Baker
• Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Jessica & Luther Siemelink

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• DPS Farming Knowledge Award – Josh Hedley
• Bay of Plenty Regional Council Leadership Award – Josh Cozens
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Josh Cozens


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